Jan. 19, 2002
PULLMAN, Wash. - The California women's basketball team overcame a 10-point first half deficit to win its first Pac-10 game of the season with a 62-50 win over Washington State Saturday night at Friel Court. The win snapped the Golden Bears four-game losing streak and improved their record to 6-11 (1-7 Pac-10), while the Cougars' school record 14th-straight loss keeps them winless in league play at 0-9 (2-17 overall).
"I told the team yesterday that good teams are upset when they have bad losses or lose games they shouldn't," said Cal head coach Caren Horstmeyer, whose team lost to Washington 85-46 on Thursday. "At half time, I reiterated that, and I'm very proud of this team because they were a little upset, and they came out (in the second half) and played like it. I'm very proud of them to win up here in Pullman, which is a tough place to play."
Cal had five players with double-figure points for the first time all year. Kristin Iwanaga led the way with 12, followed by Leigh Gregory, Amber White and LaTasha O'Keith with 11, and reserve Audrey Watler had 10. The 11 points was a season-high for White.
The first half was a sea-saw affar for the first 11 minutes with the Bears holding their final lead at 18-17 with 8:46 until intermission. WSU then began full-court pressing the Bears and closed the half on a 13-2 run to lead 30-20. The press helped lead to 11 Cal turnovers and several missed shots with the shot clock winding down.
Watler's hook shot was working in the first half, as she led the team with eight of her 10 points, four rebounds and a blocked shot in nine minutes of playing time. WSU center Brittany Hawks posted 11 of her game-high 19 points to lead her team.
"I'm trying to be more aggressive," said Watler. "I'm looking to score more. I wasn't as confident at the beginning of the year. I'm getting there. I'm still on the road trying to get more confident."
The Bears opened the second half with the determination to put their 10-game Pac-10 losing streak dating back to last season to an end. Out of the locker room, Cal went on a 13-0 run, which began with White's second of three treys for the game. WSU started missing its shots and wasn't able to press, while the Bears got the Cougars frazzled with a full-court press of their own. After committing only six first half turnovers, WSU finished the game with 17, while the Bears had 11 first half turnovers and finished with a season-low 16.
"The difference in the second half was that we were able to get them back on their heels a little bit and got them more tentative," said Horstmeyer. "We got tentative in the last seven minutes of the first half and had a dry spell. Then, they had a dry spell scoring."
"We were all fired up about the last two games and how (poor) we were playing," said Iwanaga. "We came out mad and came out ready to play in the second half. Our defense really picked it up. We started to get stops and rebounds, and our transition scoring was good."
The Bears raced to a 47-32 lead with 7:59 left in the game before the Cougars starting hitting some shots. Cal's shooting went cold over the next four minutes, and WSU closed to within five at 49-44. That was as close as the Cougars would get. The Bears sealed the game by hitting 9-of-12 free throws down the stretch. For the game, the Bears shot 80 percent from the charity stripe (12-of-15).
It was a tale of two halfs for both teams in terms of shooting percentage. Cal hit 31 percent in the first half and 52 percent in the second half for a 40.7 percent for the game. The Cougars shot 43.3 percent in the first half and 28 percent after the break to finish at 36.4 percent overall.
Ami Forney, Cal's leading scorer entering the contest at 13.5 ppg, had only three points as teams continue to double team her. She also has been dealing with the affects of a bad cold on the Washington trip. The difference tonight was that the Bears' other players made the Cougars pay for this tactic. Cal hit several of their six three pointers on kick outs from the post.
Behind Forney's nine rebounds, Cal held a 39-32 edge on the glass.
Cal plays its next four games in the Bay Area starting with a date with Arizona State Jan. 24 at Haas Pavilion.